Tiger Tennis Duo to Face Bryan Brothers Wednesday Night
Feb. 11, 2014
MEMPHIS - -
It has already been a solid spring for the senior tennis doubles team of David O'Hare and Joe Salisbury. They are ranked No. 3 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) doubles rankings, claimed the first ITA Regional doubles crown in school history, made the deepest run at both the ITA All-American and the ITA National Indoor Championships, sport the highest-ever national ranking for a Memphis doubles tandem and upset the No. 1 ranked doubles team in the country on their home court in the fall.
It gets even more impressive on Wednesday night when the duo, who received a wild card in to the doubles main draw, faces what is arguably the best doubles team in tennis history, Bob and Mike Bryan, in the first round of the U.S. National Indoor Championships at 7 p.m. at The Racquet Club of Memphis. The Bryan Brothers are well-known to college tennis fans, having played at Stanford, where they helped the Cardinal to the 1997 and 1998 NCAA championships, winning the NCAA doubles title in 1998. The Bryan Brothers' first professional doubles title came at Memphis in 2001.
"It's a great opportunity for our guys," Head Coach Paul Goebel said. "We have always wanted to get our program to a high-enough level where we could earn opportunities like these. I think there are some teams in this field that our guys (O'Hare and Salisbury) could be competitive with and I'd like them to have the chance to earn some points for after their college careers. That match on Wednesday night is going to be fun. The Bryan Brothers are the best-ever to play doubles and are fun to watch. The environment there Wednesday night could be a lot of fun."
Elevating the Tigers' program has meant all sorts of new opportunities have popped up for the Tigers as of late. Salisbury went home to London over the semester break and was invited to a high performance camp by Nick Weal, the head coach of the men's tennis program at the National Tennis Centre. There, he trained alongside players competing on the Futures and Challengers circuit. He got training from Weal, Martin Weston, former world No. 4 Greg Rusedski and Leon Smith, the Great Britain Davis Cup captain. He returned to Memphis for the beginning of the spring semester and another Tiger got some Davis Cup training, this time, it was Salisbury's doubles teammate, David O'Hare.
O'Hare was tapped by Ireland to play doubles in the first round tie against Belarus back in January. O'Hare teamed with James Cluskey and the duo took a formidable doubles tandem from Belarus to five sets, falling 6-7 (3), 7-6 (6), 5-7, 7-6 (8), 6-2 to the team of Alexander Bury and Max Mirnyi. Mirnyi, who is also in Memphis this week for the U.S. National Indoor Championships, is teaming with Samuel Groth and is the No. 4 seed in the doubles draw. Mirnyi has six career Grand Slam doubles titles and has appeared in four other Grand Slam doubles finals. His last Grand Slam doubles title came at the 2012 French Open, where he and Daniel Nestor faced Bob and Mike Bryan, the Tigers' Wednesday night opponent in the first round of the draw.
"This whole tournament has been a great experience for our whole team," Head Coach Paul Goebel said. "We had seven guys make it in to the qualifying round draw and picked up some wins there. Joe and Cedric already had professional points to get in to the draw. It was good to see our guys looking so comfortable out there."
Salisbury, junior Connor Glennon and senior Johnny Grimal all won their first round matches in the qualifying draw before falling to seeded players in the second round. They were joined in the draw by Cedric De Zutter, Ian Chadwell, David O'Leary and O'Hare.
The Tigers return to the road after this week's matches in the tournament, playing at No. 20 Vanderbilt, Friday, at 2 p.m. Memphis is 3-1 on the season and is ranked No. 18 in the most recent ITA poll.